Monday, June 12, 2017

Clark Ashton Smith's Gorgon & Some Monster Ecology For You Old School Campaigns

I'm a bit of a haunter after a strange precode horror comics especially when it comes one of my favorite OD&D & AD&D style monsters the Medusa.Well get to those comic books in a moment. Medusa in my campaigns are not simply dungeon lurkers.  These agents of chaos are a perfect monster to throw into a campaign mix as NPC's. I've used them them as harbingers, next workers, & agents working in the shadows between cults of chaos & Lovecraftian entities. Medusa can be thought of as the upper middle management of the supernatural to on the ground encounters with their own agendas.

But a Medusa's destruction doesn't necessarily mean the end of their evil at all. Clark Ashton Smith did an excellent tale called The Gorgon. This is a great sort of modern take on the legend of Perseus & the Gorgon with implications for use in, well any D&D style campaign world. Go read the tale to see what I mean & there's a great potential wizard NPC in the mix as well.  Since work has been really taking up giant swaths of time I've turned to the classic Horrors of It All blog for some classic Pre code comics old school gaming inspiration.

Rudy Palais is one of my favorite precode comic book artists, he had a style that made his creatures ooze off of the page quite literally. Mr. Palais was there from the beginnings of comic books.  He passed in 2004 but his work lives on & his classic story from The Head of Medusa This classic story of the precode era literally presents a perfect tale for use with a cult of Medusa that could be spread down through the centuries like an infection of chaos & corruption. The temple detailed in the story is a perfect adventure location to weave in the horror and depravity of a cult of Medusa from the Sword & Sorcery era right into modern times.  The Mask of Medusa is about a curious little shop of horrors, antiques, & curios to slip in a cursed item or two into your campaigns besides the main focus for this horror title.

Peter A. Morisi's Mask of Medusa appeared in the September 1953 issue of Weird Terror #7 & its an eerie take on the classic motif of the medusa mask. This particular item seems to me to belong to a lesser Medusa and has besides its save vs poison a very aggressive psychotic  personality as well as a taste for murder.

The 'Lesser Masks of Medusa' is a cult item often given to chaos cults of  worshipers & cells made in horrid rites of murder, black magick, & depravity. Each 1d4 days the spirit of the mask will make a prophecy that will advance the agenda of the cult. Once per day the mask's countenance may animate & bite for 1d6 points of damage, the victim must save vs poison or fall down dead. The mask appears to be made of the purist jade or other valuable material worth at least 4000 gold pieces or better. These items are cursed and will pass from hand to hand in vile game of murder, intrigue, & betrayal.

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